Inkjet-technology is a great addition to lots of printing presses and production lines. Yet, when integrated in an industrial environment, inkjet needs a clever solution to make its operation, maintenance and troubleshooting easy and convenient for operators. Our approach focuses on less required know-how when using a printer/print system and decreasing the costs for lengthy troubleshooting.
By replacing a whole Print Module instead of individual tubing, print heads or electronics, you can keep your system up and running while we do the troubleshooting and analysis offline. This process is much more efficient and user-friendly. It still means, only faulty parts are replaced, but the down time for trouble shooting of the print system is significantly decreased.
Our modular approach
Our Print Modules combine the core inkjet-technology in a robust casing and are small autonomous printers, that can be linked in a network. Each of these minified, industrial printers is configurable and interchangeable, which enables our unique service approach.
A print system has a certain amount of Print Modules installed – depending on the number of colours and the print width. With each printer/print system we sell, we recommend additional spare Print Modules to store on-site. These spare Print Modules can then be swapped in when installed Print Modules need to be serviced or when troubles arise. The replacement only takes a few minutes and can be done by simply disconnecting self-closing tube couplings and loosening screws – steps that most operators are very familiar with.
Our approach is based on observations we made in the daily work with machine builders, brand owners and partners over the past 13 years:
Operating should be easy
Inkjet technology operators and machine builders don’t necessarily have inkjet-specific know-how and have (mostly) no interest in handling fragile technology.
Especially during the night shift there is not much and not highly trained staff around.
Maintenance work needs to be done in a few minutes and at best with tools that machine operators are familiar with.
Production output is key
A print system needs to keep up with the rest of the production line.
Every second the line or printing press stands still; the customer loses money. They don’t care about reasons. Any waste is lost profit. Most important for them is, that the business model turns a profit. This is why troubleshooting should never be done inline.
Service needs to be plannable
You need a clear understanding of what the operating costs for a print system are. Ink consumption is one thing, but foreseeable service costs are equally important.
Also, bigger service work is mostly only possible once a year during Christmas or summer season. Extensive annual service should decrease troubleshooting during the year significantly.
Making it easy
Acceptance of added inkjet technology is not always high from the staff that needs to service and use it.
“I like to solve issues with a hammer, not with a PC”
A sentence we heard from a service technician, who was involved in a project to “go digital”
This is of course an extreme example, but to a certain extent this is the case with many machine operators and service technicians. They often come from manufacturing lines or have an analogue printing background – compared to what they know, inkjet seems like a frail, complicated and expensive struggle.
For a brand owner or machine builder, the acceptance of the technology, the service and operating efficiency have direct impact on the output of a production line or a print service. A business model can become uneconomic when it needs highly trained staff, the replacement of parts takes hours or no one with the right knowledge or sense of responsibility is around the machines all the time.
Sure, you can train and educate the staff to work with inkjet technology, but wouldn’t it make more sense for the technology take away the struggle? Knowing how hard it can be to find specialised staff running the printing press/production line 24/7, we certainly think so.
To replace Print Modules, that are cased and easily interchangeable with common tools removes the barrier to work with inkjet and increases the reliability of a printing press/production line. It decreases the risk of causing potentially expensive damage in handling the technology and makes the maintenance costs plannable.
What we take care of during a service appoinment
For most inks, the Print Modules need a service appointment once every year. During this appointment the tubing and parts that are in direct contact with the ink are replaced, the Print Module is cleaned, and all connections and parts are inspected. Since this is done at our facilities, the staff is trained specifically for these tasks.
We developed standardised tests to check long term performance, vibration resistance and the performance of all individual sensors. For us, the inspection of a Print Module means going through a checklist, and working with highly specialised tools. Our Print Module is a piece of hardware that we know inside out and – since it is standardised – we can offer a very high level of quality assurance.
In rare cases, replacing the Print Modules may not resolve an issue. In that case, we offer additional remote support: You describe the problem or error you have via phone or by mail. Dealing with inkjet for such a long time, we already have an extensive list for troubleshooting and identifying the most common causes. Our Print Modules also provide special possibilities for remote access to read sensor values or adjust settings, which helps narrowing down the reasons for irregular behaviour without the need to be on-site.
That way, we can make informed decisions on how to fix the problem or if it makes sense to send a Print Module for servicing to our facilities. All steps of this process are transparent, and we are not secretive about our technology: When the part that causes the problem is identified, we can even prepare a quotation for the needed service work upfront.
Stay independent, turn a profit
For us, it is most important that our customers can act independently within their production. The spare Print Modules on the shelf can keep their production running even under various difficult circumstances (operator failure, collisions, equipment malfunction…) and in case they need our expertise and swapping Print Modules is not enough, we can provide help with a short remote connection. This unique service concept has proven it can make inkjet technology industrially suitable, resilient to manufacturing conditions and compliant with the customers business model.